Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, February 15, 2007

IRAQ OCCUPATION PROTESTERS PLAN FUNERAL PROCESSION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Bruce Gagnon 443-9502 globalnet@mindspring.com

On Wednesday, February 21 members of the Bath-Brunswick Occupation Project Affinity Group will organize a funeral procession to the Portland office of Rep. Tom Allen. The procession will gather at Tommy’s Park on Exchange Street at 12:45 pm and then proceed to Allen’s office.

The funeral procession will call on Rep. Allen to vote against George W. Bush’s request for another $100 billion for the occupation of Iraq. The procession will mourn the loss of American, Coalition, and Iraqi lives lost. It will also mourn the loss of social services that occur because our tax dollars are consumed by this war –(health care, child care, education, housing, environmental programs, etc.)

According to affinity group member Bruce Gagnon, “Rep. Tom Allen said he is against the occupation of Iraq. He promised that things would change once Democrats controlled Congress. But Rep. Allen and the majority in Congress plan to continue to appropriate the funds to support the occupation. The best they can do is debate a non-binding resolution opposing Bush’s troop surge. That is not good enough.”

President Bush said he does not intend to bring the troops home, yet polls tell us the majority of the American people are against the occupation. The only recourse for Congress is to cut the funding.

Each month the US occupation of Iraq costs Americans $8.5 billion.

Gagnon continued, “We’ve sent letters and emails to Congress. We’ve held open forums. Some have had private conversations with our representatives; others have brought the issue to campaign debates and public meetings. Rep. Mike Michaud from Maine’s 2nd district has voted to stop funding this occupation. Why can’t Rep. Allen and our Senators do the same?”

The Bath-Brunswick Occupation Project Affinity Group is made up of people who belong to Maine Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine, PeaceWorks, and other local groups.

- END -

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

EVERYTHING SLOWS DOWN

We finally are getting some snow here after the warmest December in Maine's history and then a severe icy cold from January to present. I just came back from a walk in the snow to downtown Bath with our dog Red and our new house mate Levi.

Many of the shops downtown were closed or had signs up saying they were closing at noon. Not many cars on the street although there were the big snowplows on the streets and the pick-up trucks that have smaller plows on them for people's driveways. We've got to find someone to come and plow our driveway because it is a very long and wide one, in fact we have two of them - one on each side of the house. Way too much to shovel.

Looking out our second-floor window Mary Beth(MB) just pointed out the little kids playing on their sleds in the back yards of the houses near us. From upstairs we feel like we are in a tree house looking out onto the snowy world.

Mary Beth and Karen did not have to go to work today because of the snow storm. We all sat in the kitchen and ate scones that MB and Levi made for breakfast. Levi, a native Mainer, walked to the local grocery store early this morning in the snow to get some lemons for the scones.

Years ago while on a speaking trip to Miami I was talking to a guy from Maine who was spending some time in Florida. He told me he noticed that in Florida, because of air conditioning, that people never let up on their hectic pace of life. It was non-stop go-go-go. In Maine he said, when the heavy snows come people slow down. Life slows down. I think he was right.

Karen is taking a nap now. Levi kept walking after I turned back and headed home. MB is sitting in front of the upstairs window with her small white dog, that resembles a bundle of fluff, named Seamus on her lap. She is composing a leaflet.

I am writing this and thinking of laying down for a bit myself. Maybe finishing the book I have been reading. We have no other plans for today. It's the kind of day we rarely have in our busy lives.

Let the snow keep coming down.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

LISTEN DEEPLY TO WHAT THEY SAY

Everybody is talking about Hillary and Obama. Which one do you like they ask? As if they were the only two choices we have.

They are, on the Democratic Party side, the only two real options that the power boys are going to give you. They are going to get most of the media, most of the money, and since the Dems now have front-loaded the primaries, they will get most of the votes as the system has been rigged to make it a quick strike and then it's all over. What I mean is that the primaries are now being set up so that you have to have big money to advertise on the TV. They are going to stack primaries together making the old shoe leather process of actually visiting states and talking with the public obsolete. The days of an also ran making a dramatic come from behind victory,after losing early primaries, are over. The power structure can't afford to leave democracy to the public. You are much too dangerous. You might pick the wrong candidate.

My prediction is that it will be a ticket on the Dems side of Clinton-Obama. Hillary has some serious negatives with voters. She does not inspire folks. A "fresh" face like Obama will help give her the momentum to pull it off.

It should be remembered that Hillary told AIPAC in recent days that the U.S. and Israel would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Translate that to mean Hillary would use the nuclear bomb on Iran to stop them from building nukes. "All options are on the table," Hillary said. I've also heard Hillary say that "The American people need to relax. We're going to be in Iraq a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years."

I watched a Chicago Tribune reporter on CSPAN a couple of weeks ago being interviewed about Obama. "Isn't he too radical?" the reporter was asked. "Actually no he is not. He has a very good relationship with the Chicago banking community," the reporter told the CSPAN host. There you are. Obama passes the test. He will play the game.

Obama announced his candidacy this past weekend saying he wanted to "strategically redeploy" the U.S. troops by March 2008. You've got to listen closely to catch it. Strategic redeployment does not mean bring the troops home. It means move them into Kuwait and then send them back into Iraq on special forces assassination missions and Air Force bombing missions. Obama, and others calling for strategic redeployment, just want to get most of the troops out of the direct line of fire. When asked this weekend in New Hampshire if he'd be willing to vote against further funding for the Iraq occupation - Obama said no. Same position as Clinton and most of the rest of the bunch now running for president - except for Kucinich.

The American voter has to get smart fast. But a lot of voters, including many of those who are against the occupation, don't want to hear the details because they still want to believe that the Dems are going to rescue us from this burning building. Problem is they won't.

This is the big leagues of politics. If you want to play ball then you have to learn to hit the curve. Otherwise you will keep striking out.

The curve can be mastered but you've got to keep your eye on the ball. You've got to watch the face of the politicians so close you can see the twitch in their eye at the same time they are mumbling bullshit from their mouths. Once you get the hang of it it becomes much easier to do. Pretty soon you are hitting each pitch they throw you out of the park. You'll find yourself saying, "Don't throw me that crap no more Jack. I can see it coming."

Once you can do that you become a free human being with a mind that is not shackled to the slavery of contemporary politics. And once you become a free agent you can then begin to make your own way in the world, helping others to find liberation from the oligarchy that rules us today. You can become a real organizer who suffers from no more illusions. The slight-of-hand will no longer fool you.

Until we become free from the rigged game nothing changes. That's a promise you can take to Obama's bank.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

THE CITIZENS MUST ACT

We had 41 people turn up yesterday in Portland for the first of our two non-violence training sessions in preparation for our participation in the occupation project.

So far two affinity groups have been formed and maybe more are yet to be put together.

The training went quite well and there were several new folks there with us as we talked about the history of non-violent direct action, outlined the roles and responsibilities of affinity groups, role-played a congressional office occupation, and had a legal briefing from a volunteer lawyer. We do the whole thing again next week for a new group of people.

All the signs are leading to the fact that the public is becoming increasingly frustrated with the politics surrounding the occupation of Iraq and the impending U.S. attack on Iran. People are starting to understand that they are going to have to take active non-violent measures to stop this madness. Leaving it to the politicians just ain't gonna cut it.

The Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, in 1950, released the following statement to the citizens of the world:

"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

The occupation of Iraq and the continued funding of the occupation by Congress in my mind is a crime against peace and humanity. We must collectively act now as instructed by international and moral law.